I have a small request: Please stop driving associates crazy. Why? Because if you do, then we’ll all stop wishing death and harm on you and be more productive employees.
At 6:30 PM last Tuesday, fed up with my gut expanding from Friday margarita benders and sedentary bouts induced by thin attempts to ramp up my billables, I was preparing to take off for the gym. At this point in my legal career, nothing clears the early-week haze and prepares me for late-week binge drinking quite like a workout and a steam. That, and I enjoy seeing old balls.
At 6:32, my phone rings. It’s a partner who I’m on a deal with. In reality, I’m blatantly slacking on this particular assignment and haven’t done anything on the deal in weeks. Every time I see him, he keeps saying things like, “Gonna be heating up soon,” “Get ready for hell,” and every other clichéd partner phrase that make associates want to punch you all in the face. I contemplated not picking up, but as I recently stated, I’m trying to at least make an attempt to at least make an effort to at least try to look like an actual lawyer. And people like that normally pick up the phone at 6:30 when a partner calls.
“This is Matthew.”
“Thought maybe you had left for the day.”
I clack the edges of a stack of paper on my desk to sound fully engaged in something profitable.
“Me? …Never. What’s up?”
“In Section 6.13(d) of the reps, we really need to bang out those changes we talked about by tomorrow, so—”
My teeth began grinding into nubs because in 20 words, this partner tripped into the pitfalls of my two biggest pet peeves of partner/associate interaction:
1. Partners who think of themselves as on-call doctors
We all know that Biglaw is a nightmare. And sometimes it requires your full, around-the-clock attention. However, those rare occasions should be limited to closings. In all my years of working, I have never, ever, ever seen the benefit in making someone pull an all-nighter any sooner than three weeks before a deal closes. You not only drain associates of all energy for the entire next day, you make them hate you.
2. Partners who assume I keep logs of every conversation we’ve ever had
How the hell do I remember all the crap that came out of your mouth when we shared an elevator three weeks ago? Come to think of it, what human could? Maybe Ray Babbitt or kids with autism can recall it verbatim, but not Matthew Richardson. (Come to think of it, why haven’t I grabbed my friend’s autistic five-year-old and headed off to Vegas yet? I could clear the tables with that rug rat.)
But seriously, would it be so hard when a Partner calls for him to say something as straight-forward as, “Hey, Matt, how’s it going? What happened with that slob you took home after the summer event? Great. Look, do you remember a few weeks ago when we were discussing the _________ deal? Take a look at the reps section, refresh your memory on it and call me back so we can have an intelligible conversation about it. Okay? Thanks.”
Instead, Partners seem to thrive on hearing associates hem and haw before sticking them with some crap response to sound competent.
“Section 6.13? Ahh, yeah, uh huh, sure…”
“Let’s get it done then. Only instead of—”
Call it burn out, call it old age, call it a lack of grunt-worthy sex, but when I hear this s#!t out of partners’ mouths lately, I silently undergo a psychotic break. My nub teeth could barely bite my tongue.
This is hate. I mean voodoo doll hatred.
In my top drawer, tucked behind my new “Girls of the ACC” Playboy, which is carefully tucked behind a distraction of office supplies, are two voodoo dolls of partners. One of them made me stay up for 70 hours straight, which triggered my now-chronic back problems. His particular voodoo doll even has a comb-over, push pins in his spine, and I think I gave him swine flu. The other is of a female partner who didn’t know her ass from her elbow but thought it was “cool” to work ridiculous hours because she was a gunner. She pretty much thought everyone should bill 300 hours a month to be doing a decent job. The truth was she had absolutely nothing to go home to. So her voodoo doll has flapjack titties and chair ass, and I used to rub it on toilet seats hoping she’d contract something horrible.
I began contemplating making the two a trio and doing black arts on my current deal partner as I frantically rummaged around my desk for the proper credit agreement. By the time I actually found it, I had missed any relevant information and requests he had just plowed through.
Realizing I’d inevitably fuck it up if I didn’t ask him to repeat it, I stepped on the flaming bag of poo.
“Okay, so can you repeat that?”
“Come on, Matt. Get your head out of your ass.”
Whose fault is this???
Some might say mine for not speaking up in the beginning of the conversation, but I don’t think so. Every time I take that approach, I somehow irritate the partner with my lack of awareness of the inner workings of his brain. I’m working on multiple deals—just like him. I keep track as best I can with little white boards and Post-it notes scattered about; however, I, nor any associate—no matter how much of an ass-kiss—will ever master the art of mind reading. Voodoo? Maybe. But never will anyone know everything that went through your goddamned mind the three minutes before you picked up the phone and called us. It’s not going to happen.
So please, when you call, at least give us a second to sort out what the hell you’re even referring to.
And for any partners who are reading this and dismissing me as an outright degenerate, just know that my fellow non-degenerate associates are sitting at their desks carving voodoo dolls of you when you do these things. I’m just the only one man enough to admit it to you. So stop it. Please.